Workplace pensions are becoming an increasingly high-profile media topic in the UK, and this new-found fame is starting to register on the political richter-scale of potential election issues as well.
To evidence this, we need look no further than media comment of the last few working days – and in particular the FT story that suggested that the response to the DWP Charges Consultation might be delayed by “up to a year”.
It’s currently unclear how accurate the above report actually is. Yet there are indications, or at least rumours, that the drive for this delay comes from The Treasury, which is of course currently headed by George Osborne, the Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer. The implication being that the Tories are keen to kick this subject into the next election term.
I have today seen Steve Webb, the Lib Dem MP and Minister for Pensions, quoted as describing some of the information that has been leaking out as “complete nonsense” – and then going on to list his successes as Minister for Pensions (which may be a potential sign of early electioneering).
And Labour? Well Gregg McClymont, the Shadow Minister for Pensions, was widely quoted at the outset of this particular story on Friday. Unwisely he tried to pair the subject of a pension charges cap for Auto-Enrolment schemes with the Labour electioneering theme of “the cost of living crisis”, although the two subjects are, in fact, completely unconnected at this time.
So it’s clear that the topic of pensions is becoming something of a minor political battleground in the run up to the next General Election. This just adds to the legislative uncertainty around Auto-Enrolment.
None of which does much to help employers seeking to comply with this landmark legislation, or the confidence of the employees who are just entering the world of workplace pensions for the first time.